In late May, the Taiwanese authorities informed the European Commission that significant amounts of phthalates were illegally added to certain categories of sports drinks. These chemicals are believed to affect reproductive performance and fertility, and have been linked to developmental problems with children.
The Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration has published the names of 879 products of more than 300 producers that contained high amounts of phthalates. More than 200 products from 34 producers were exported to 22 countries. These include some EU Member States, in particular Germany and the UK, where some products were withdrawn from the market.
What are phthalates? Normally, producers of sports drinks, jelly and fruit pulps use a palm-oil based product to obtain a cloudy appearance, but in the Taiwanese incident, this was largely replaced by the two cheaper substances: bis-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (commonly abbreviated DEHP), and – in one case – di-iso-nonyl phthalate (DINP). DEHP and DINP are commonly used as plasticizers in many plastic products. These substances, however, are prohibited in the production of food, and their use in plastic toys and childcare products is restricted in the EU.
List of products that contained high amounts of phthalates, published by the Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration
- Tainted Taiwanese drinks on import watch list (cbc.ca)
- Taiwan warns Vietnam of tainted drinks shipment (lookatvietnam.com)
- Tainted Food Scare Sparks Mass Recalls (chinadigitaltimes.net)
- Taiwan Threatened with DEHP Contamination (friendseat.com)
- Food, beverages imported from Taiwan may contain toxic chemical: CFIA (windsorstar.com)
- More DEHP-tainted drinks, food products seized from city shelves (lookatvietnam.com)
- Fda: Food Products From Taiwan Being Monitored (tuklasinnatin.wordpress.com)